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Doing without concepts

Journal Article


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Abstract


  • The title is apt to mislead. This book does not provide an argument for thinking that we live

    in a world without concepts. At least, it provides no direct argument for believing any such

    thing. Rather it argues for the elimination of concepts from psychological theorizing on the

    grounds that concepts are not natural kinds, where natural kinds are understood as classes of

    things with many properties in common and the source of many successful scientific

    generalizations. Machery labels this the causal notion of natural kinds. Arguing that concepts

    are not natural kinds, in the causal sense, the book concludes that positing concepts is

    unhelpful in the sciences of the mind – viz. doing so is likely to impede psychological

    theorizing.

    Suppose, for a moment, that all of this is conceded. It would be an enormous inferential

    leap to conclude that we can do without concepts, across the board, from acceptance that

    concepts should be eliminated from scientific psychology. Justifying that inference would

    require buying into the idea that science, and only science, tells us what’s what and what

    there is. Only then would Machery’s conclusion constitute anything like an argument for the

    elimination of concepts in general. There are hints that Machery is inclined to accept such

    exclusive scientific realism, given the pride of place he gives to science and the limited role

    he earmarks for philosophy. Thus the book’s preface briefly mentions his vision of the proper

    work of philosophy as playing the part of a Lockean underlabourer. Philosophy’s job –

    perhaps, its only job – is to clear conceptual rubble so as to enable better science and to allow

    a better understanding of scientific findings.

Publication Date


  • 2013

Citation


  • Hutto, D. (2013). Doing without concepts. Philosophy in Review, 33 (2), 142-145.

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1847&context=lhapapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/842

Number Of Pages


  • 3

Start Page


  • 142

End Page


  • 145

Volume


  • 33

Issue


  • 2

Place Of Publication


  • http://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/pir/issue/view/653

Abstract


  • The title is apt to mislead. This book does not provide an argument for thinking that we live

    in a world without concepts. At least, it provides no direct argument for believing any such

    thing. Rather it argues for the elimination of concepts from psychological theorizing on the

    grounds that concepts are not natural kinds, where natural kinds are understood as classes of

    things with many properties in common and the source of many successful scientific

    generalizations. Machery labels this the causal notion of natural kinds. Arguing that concepts

    are not natural kinds, in the causal sense, the book concludes that positing concepts is

    unhelpful in the sciences of the mind – viz. doing so is likely to impede psychological

    theorizing.

    Suppose, for a moment, that all of this is conceded. It would be an enormous inferential

    leap to conclude that we can do without concepts, across the board, from acceptance that

    concepts should be eliminated from scientific psychology. Justifying that inference would

    require buying into the idea that science, and only science, tells us what’s what and what

    there is. Only then would Machery’s conclusion constitute anything like an argument for the

    elimination of concepts in general. There are hints that Machery is inclined to accept such

    exclusive scientific realism, given the pride of place he gives to science and the limited role

    he earmarks for philosophy. Thus the book’s preface briefly mentions his vision of the proper

    work of philosophy as playing the part of a Lockean underlabourer. Philosophy’s job –

    perhaps, its only job – is to clear conceptual rubble so as to enable better science and to allow

    a better understanding of scientific findings.

Publication Date


  • 2013

Citation


  • Hutto, D. (2013). Doing without concepts. Philosophy in Review, 33 (2), 142-145.

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1847&context=lhapapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/842

Number Of Pages


  • 3

Start Page


  • 142

End Page


  • 145

Volume


  • 33

Issue


  • 2

Place Of Publication


  • http://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/pir/issue/view/653